For its fourth edition, Moonrise Festival returned to the Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland on August 12-13th. Despite facing weather issues on Saturday evening, the star-studded lineup and intimate environment carried the festival to yet another successful year.
After 2016, Moonrise Festival set out on a mission to upgrade fan experience in multiple ways. After feedback from attendees, the festival acknowledged that there were issues with the security, water availability, and festival infrastructure that inhibited an attendee’s ability to enjoy the festival. The 2017 upgrades were hugely successful. Security was respectful, water stations were all over the festival with the addition of free bottles being circulated through the crowds, there was an increased number of shade structures on the ground, relieving people from the scorching sun at times, and the Solar Tent was upgraded to provide better air flow, eliminating high temperatures during the day. Moonrise Festival took the steps to address some of the biggest fan complaints in 2016 and it enabled fans to have a better experience.
Unfortunately, even with all the measures taken beforehand to upgrade the festival, organizers cannot control the weather. Saturday evening, the area was struck with thunderstorms, forcing an evacuation of the festival ground for over two hours. The event did a good job getting people from the grounds to the grandstands where they were forced to wait out the storm. We were impressed with how, once the storm passed, the grounds staff got things back up and running. Artists like Kaskade, Afrojack, and Migos were forced to cancel due to schedule conflicts, but things were shifted around so that artists like Rezz, Madeon, and Getter were still able to play.
Despite the additions, changes, and weather, Moonrise Festival comes down to one thing, the music, and the artists did not disappoint. On Saturday, up until the storm, the Solar Tent was the place to be with Rickyxsan, Party Thieves b2b Ricky Remedy, and Boombox Cartel all playing energetic sets to a packed set. The true standout of the day was California’s own, RL Grime. Playing an early set in the afternoon due to another festival appearance later in the day, the trap genius shook the stage with his incredible track selection and vibe. There are few shows that we have seen that rivaled the energy of that set.
After the storm on Saturday, we were treated to Rezz at the Celestial Garden, Madeon on the Stellar Stage, and Zeds Dead on the Lunar Stage. Each artist treated fans to their signature styles; Rezz’s bass heavy melodies shook the crowd, Madeon’s uplifting tracks caused fans to sing in unison, and Zeds Dead closed day 1 of the festival with a bang, showcasing their latest release with Illenium, “Where the Wild Things Are” for their closing track.
Despite the heavy rainfall from day 1, the groundskeepers did an incredible job making sure the festival was navigable on Sunday. With the occasional mud pit, the ground was mostly dry and ready for attendees to return and finish the weekend. Day 2 of the festival seemed to be a music more diverse day on the lineup with all genres being well represented. With rescheduling, fans were treated to an early dose Getter in the Solar Tent, followed by another highlight of the weekend, JOYRYDE. The Englishman’s bass house shook the tent once again and had the energy bursting out the seams. As an individual who is on a meteoric rise in electronic music, JOYRYDE’s sets are a treat and should not be missed.
With the gorgeous weather overhead, it allowed for us to explore the grounds. Said the Sky and Jai Wolf brought their summery vibes to the Celestial Garden, Markus Schulz represented for the Trance Family at the Stellar Stage, and Zomboy melted faces in the Solar Tent with his body-shaking bass. As it seemed the case with many other attendees, the anticipation was building for one artist, Porter Robinson. Being welcomed back to Moonrise Festival, Robinson brought an updated version of his “Live Worlds Show” that left viewers in awe. His set was a master craft in artistry; his music, his visuals, his emotion were all on point. As “Language” came over the speakers to finish his set, the roar from the crowd was chilling and the wave of emotions that followed was overwhelming. Porter Robinson does not just put on a show, he creates an experience.
To round out the festival, Dillstradamus, the duo of Dillon Francis and Flosstradamus, played to a packed Stellar Stage. Combining their two insane track libraries, their set can only be described as one thing: wild. Ranging from trap to dubstep to house to rap to moombahton, the set hit everything; it was almost as if they were DJing a house party. With the final moments ticking away in the festival, attendees were giving the duo everything they had. As the crowd jumped up one final time from their “Get Low” sit-down and fireworks cascaded down the sky, all the issues with weather from earlier in the weekend faded away. In 2017, Moonrise Festival tackled its previous issues and brought forth an experience that is unmatched in the Washington, DC area. As 2018 nears, we cannot wait to see what they have in store.